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Hẻm Gems: A Japanese-American Time-Warp on Binh Thanh’s Backstreets

Imagine a world where the 1950s never ended. Where Daddy-O’s race muscle cars all day and Peggy Sue’s dance the night away. Where it’s all one big small town of neon-lit diners and all-night gas stati...

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Hẻm Gems: Hiding From Influencers in an Old-School Saigon Cafe

"Saigon in its golden age was a time to be remembered and passed down to younger generations. The vintage aesthetic trend in Vietnam has been around for a couple of years now and for me, it is a cause...

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Hẻm Gems: On the Nguyen Du Sidewalk, Connoisseur Coffee at Pavement Prices

Contemporary coffee culture in Saigon is largely one of extremes. On one end, enthusiasts at trendy shops source, grow, roast and meticulously prepare some of the finest beans in the wo...

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Hẻm Gems: In Saigon's First Shots Bar, Usain Bolt and Princess Peach in Test Tubes

Pham Ngu Lao Street, along with its sister street Bui Vien, has been known for almost two decades to foreigners as the perfect place to drink, bunk-in and conveniently repeat. In other words, a booze-...

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Hẻm Gems: Coconut Coffee and Banana Bread in a Quiet Corner of Thao Dien

Thao Dien is known to some as a quiet neighborhood, despite its ongoing development projects. Upscale restaurants and fancy cafes are plentiful, serving a range of gourmet food and drinks. Yet, in bet...

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Hẻm Gems: When a Saigon Cafe Gets Its Hanoi Quirks Just Right

There are three H’s that best encompass Vietnam: Hanoi, the capital; Hue, the ancient capital; and Ho Chi Minh City, the economic center. While I am still struck by Hue’s vibrant culture, my memories ...

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Hẻm Gems: Authentic French Pastries in an Unexpected Part of Town

Perhaps a story not too unfamiliar to many: Tom Nguyen grew up in France as a French-Vietnamese. Any similarity in background with other Viet Kieu, however, ends rather quickly. About two years ago, N...

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Hẻm Gems: While the Day Away Under the Green Canopy of Cỏ Cafe

Under a thick canopy of verdant vines and minuscule pink flowers, it’s easy to indulge in the cooling comfort of a glass of iced tamarind juice and while the day away.

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Hẻm Gems: Lost in the Half-Childlike, Half-Adult World of 'The Little Prince'

Remember the tale about a little boy who travels planet to planet on a quest to discover and retrieve lessons about the adult world? This cafe is yet another untold chapter of that story.

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Hẻm Gems: At Thương Library, a Shrine to Leonard Cohen and How the Light Gets In

At the risk of appearing like a pretentious prig, I will begin this Hẻm Gem review with the introduction of a foreign word: the weirdly specific concept of smultronstället.

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Hẻm Gems: Come for the Architecture, Stay for the Architecture

In an age when seemingly every building in Saigon has been knocked down for redevelopment at least once, it's rare to be able to spend time in a truly unique architectural gem.

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Hẻm Gems: On the Road to Ruin, From Budapest to Binh Thanh

The southern edge of Binh Thanh is one of Saigon’s most fascinating areas. More cosmopolitan than the district would have you believe, its maze-like streets hold a heady mix of different influences. W...

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Hẻm Gems: Cam Cam Kafe and the Fujian Pagoda That Inspired Its Name

I wish I could claim that I discovered Cam Cam Kafe by myself. Tucked away in a corner unit up the second floor of a nondescript apartment in District 5, the coffee shop seems mostly undetectable from...

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Hẻm Gems: A Canal Cafe and Bar as Rustic as Its Name Promises

Driving leisurely along Hoang Sa Street, I stopped in front of a small coffee shop called Lao Hac — a retro-style cafe that's hidden behind the perennial flowering vines within sight of Nhieu Loc...

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Hẻm Gems: At Ngọt Cafe, a Treasure Trove of Saigon's Childhood Snacks and Knick-Knacks

To me, Saigon is not just a city, it is the people, the lifestyle and the cafés.

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Hẻm Gems: Pandan and Durian Gelato for a Sizzling Summer Day in Saigon

My earliest memory of ice cream in Saigon involves savoring Kem Bach Dang’s renowned kem trái dừa: scoops of coconut ice cream in a coconut husk topped with an assortment of fresh and jammed fruits.

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Move Over Fish Pedicures, Coffee With Koi Is the New Fishy Trend in Saigon

Do you love ornamental fish? Do you wish to be closer to these majestic marine creatures but the murky pond water and hawk-eyed security guards always get in your way?

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Hẻm Gems: In Tan Binh, VND4,000 Is All You Need for Good Bia Hơi

Bia hơi for the people.

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Hẻm Gems: Cozy Autumn Flavors at Tokyo Moon, Japan Town's Korean Cafe

Tokyo Moon's presence is an odd-but-welcoming representation of South Korean hospitality in the heart of Le Thanh Ton's "Japan Town" with its mysterious herbal tonic, sweet potato pastry and pumpkin c...

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Hẻm Gems: At Things Café, Humans, Cats and Nat King Cole Coexist in a Harmonious Ecosystem

I admit that it’s taken me great pains to write this week’s Hẻm Gem.